Slovenia has new Prime Minister

Photo: Borut Peršolja
Mr Miro Cerar has been sworn in as the new Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia. He will form the new government in the next two weeks with his left-wing coalition partners DeSUS and SD.

In his speech, Mr Cerar rejected any suggestion that he won illegitimate elections as claimed by Janez Janša's party SDS and presented general principles that should guide his new government. Slovenia has all human and other resources to become a successful country, he said. The new government should inspire trust in public administration by respecting the rule of law and basic values. According to Mr Cerar, all citizens should be aware that the rule of law is an important social value.

"Respect for the rule of law means that the economy and the banking sector have instruments in place that prevent transgressions. The rule of law means that public tenders and public institutions in general are free of corruption. The rule of law means that within the framework of constitution and laws judiciary is independent and autonomous."

The opposition now unites parties as diverse as radical left Zdužena levica; Zavezništvo Alenke Bratušek; and Nova Slovenija and SDS as the two right-wing parties. With the exception of ZaAB, the new opposition members of the National Assembly did not give their support to the new Prime Minister. Their main objection is that Mr Cerar in his speech did not offer any specific and quantified measures that should take Slovenia out of its current crisis.

As a matter of our local interest, Slovenian weekly Reporter brought news of the recalled ambassador Balažic who was seen seated at the table with other prominent members of Nova Slovenia who participated in a debate at the recent party meeting in Radenci. Milan Balažic allegedly joined the party in January this year despite, or perhaps because of, his former membership in the Slovenian communist party and close relations with Milan Kučan.

Nova Slovenija seems to be a party of interest for many, including the new Prime Minister Mr Cerar who was visibly disappointed when NSi decided not to join his coalition. Mr Cerar who is currently the most popular Slovenian politician in all opinion polls has been recently at great pains to present himself through his former wives and his current partner as a practising Catholic.

Encounter Europe Scholarships for Australian students - by German Academic Exchange Service

The two-week course "Encounter Europe - Visit Germany. A DAAD Seminar for Students from Australia and New Zealand at the European Academy Otzenhausen" is held in cooperation with the ASKO Europa Stiftung (AES), Murdoch University and other renowned partners in Germany and Australia.

The course offers an exciting opportunity for students – from the fields of law, politics, international relations, European studies or similar subjects – wanting to improve their understanding of contemporary European affairs and legislative regulations, organised by the European Academy Otzenhausen, the University of New England and the DAAD.

The course is open to Australian or New Zealand advanced undergraduates and graduates enrolled at an Australian or New Zealand university and will be held in English.

Please note that the travel allowance has been increased to EUR 600 this year.

Applications from advanced students of all subjects will be accepted, provided they have completed at least two years of university education at the beginning of the Course and have a demonstrated academic interest in German and European affairs. Graduates and Ph.D. students may also apply.
Applicants must be enrolled at an Australian or New Zealand university. They must either be Australian or New Zealand nationals.
Applicants must not be younger than 19 years at the beginning of the course.

The deadline is September 1Students can find an application pack as well as further information on our website:

Two easy measures to dramatically improve the level of democracy in Slovenia

Slovenian democracy could seriously benefit from just two easy measures that every literate Slovenian can master in no time:

1. Promptly answer your emails.

When I send an email to my friend in England she answers within 24 hours. When I communicate with the Australian government, I receive at least an acknowledgement within 24 hours.

When I contact people in Slovenia, they don't answer. Or they do, but a few weeks later. Or perhaps a month or two later. Or never.

There are so few exceptions that they simply confirm the rule. But what kind of rule is this? Why don't they answer their email? Are they too busy? Are they perhaps trying to tell me that they can't be bothered? That I'm not important enough to deserve a prompt answer?

In a functioning democracy, all people are equal before the law. This rule is much more than just a rule. It is an attitude, a state of mind that should be adopted by every single Slovenian in our daily life. All people that I meet on the local bus, on highway, at work are equal. We are all equal. By answering emails promptly I show that I understand and apply this rule. That I truly believe in democracy.

2. Start using 'I' rather than 'we' in formal correspondence.

If you take a look at any formal letter from Slovenia, you will notice that the writer never takes direct responsibility for his or her own writing but always hides behind the collective 'we'.

'We would like to inform you', 'we believe', 'in our opinion', etc. Who is this 'we'? Why 'we'? It is understandable when the writer actually represents a group of people who all sign the letter. But when the writer is one and only and there is just one signature, the use of 'we' is questionable.

Is this the royal we, employed by persons of high office such as a monarch or pope? Or an attempt to sound like it? Or perhaps a sign of inferiority complex? Of a need to appear like a multitude rather than just one person?

Or is this perhaps a way to spread responsibility, to avoid accountability? If I say 'we would like to ask you' I am telling you that I am just a messenger and not the decision maker.

But when I sign a letter I have to stand by what I say. It is my responsibility to make sure that the details of my correspondence are correct. I take pride in issuing the letter and I take responsibility for its content.

Just a little shift from 'we' to 'I' could make a huge difference in everyone's minds. Why not try it? 

Slovenian physical education teacher Metod Klemenc behind International Children Games

Lake Macquarie will host the International Children Games, a member of the International Olympic Committee, in December 2014. The ICG are the largest youth games in the world. Young athletes aged between 12 and 15 years will come from all over the world to compete and make friends with their peers in Lake Macquarie.

The Games started in 1968 when physical education teacher Metod Klemenc organised the 1st International Children Games in Celje with participants from Slovenia, Serbia, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Croatia.

Since that time, the Games have been organised by many cities around the world, including in Logrono, Spain; Szombathely, Hungary; Hamilton, Canada; Cleveland, USA; Bangkok, Thailand; Taipei, Taiwan, among many others. This year, the Games will take place in Lake Macquarie, Australia, for the first time.

The Games are not only about sport, they are also meant to facilitate friendship and cooperation among children from diverse cultures.

For the Games in Lanarkshire in 2011, Metod Klemenc, the father of the Games, gave an interesting interview (in English).